PINE RIDGE, S.D. (KELO) — Local grocers, like Buche Foods in Pine Ridge, are struggling to compete with big box companies as produce prices rise across the country. A federal trade commissioner traveled to the reservation Friday to start conversations with Buche Foods to see how it is being impacted.

Since 1905, Buche Foods has been a local business in South Dakota communities.
Competing against big stores with more produce and lower costs, the business is facing some challenges.

“I just don’t believe that when it comes to food, that my customers should have to go without. Or anybody else in rural America,” RF Buche, President of GF Buche Co., said.

There are seven Buche Foods grocery stores in South Dakota including here in Pine Ridge. Where this is the only grocery store within an hour’s distance.

Often times, Pine Ridge residents will drive to Rapid City or Chadron, Nebraska, to get what they need.

“I hope to have a more level playing field when it comes to cost. But probably more than that I want access to the same foods that everyone else can get for my customers,” Buche said.

That’s why Federal Trade Commissioner, Alvaro Bedoya, traveled here today.

“So that when we go back to Washington and tell them that this isn’t a question of one’s and zero’s. It’s the question about the strength of the community, the health of the community, the nutrition of the community, which is the kind of thing you can’t do sitting behind a desk in zoom meetings,” Bedoya said.

By leveling the playing field with these bigger box companies, RF Buche and Bedoya, say the Pine Ridge Reservation could benefit greatly.

“So the goal here is to meet not just Mr. Buche’s team but other small business leaders, tribal council leaders face-to-face, hear what’s on their minds, how we can help, there is no substitute for that in our work,” Bedoya said.

Alvaro Bedoya is one of five Federal Trade Commissioners in the entire United States.